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Govt consults telcos again on draft law

Govt consults telcos again on draft law

A girl uses a mobile phone in Phnom Penh. Mobile companies are scheduled to submit by Friday feedback on the draft telecommunications law which will eventually regulate the sector.

Mobile-phone operators to submit feedback in light of new entrants, changes to market

We'll be looking to put together comments on the draft as it stands.

CAMBODIA'S mobile phone companies have said they will give feedback on a draft telecommunications law by Friday after the government agreed to receive comments by the private sector.

Marae Ciantar, a partner at Phnom Penh law firm Allens Arthur Robinson who is chairing the private-sector sub-committee considering the draft, told the Post Monday that not all operators had given feedback yet following an August 27 meeting in Phnom Penh that included a "brief discussion" on the issue.

"We'll be looking to put together comments on the draft as it stands ... on key elements," he said, adding that these would be collated and presented to the government.

The private sector had not been consulted on the latest version of the draft, which had been adjusted by the government during a period in which, Ciantar said, "the market has changed" with the introduction of new companies.

Viettel, Smart Mobile and Beeline have all set up in Cambodia this year.

The government agreed to reopen the consultation process to the private sector at the beginning of last month, said Ciantar, who led the meeting on August 27.

Some companies expressed concern at a number of points in the draft that they said were unclear or went against their commercial interests.

Hello CEO Simon Perkins told the Post Monday it had raised four points in its feedback to the working group, which it had already submitted.

These included rules on foreign ownership, separation of networks, universal service obligations and the transition period once the law has been passed by the government.

Perkins said that in regard to universal coverage, the draft was unclear as to how companies would ensure all geographic areas would be covered - particularly given the lack of mains electricity in remote regions - and whether mobile companies "may be required to put in funds" as part of a pool to cover infrastructure costs.

Other options might include agreements between companies to establish infrastructure in different areas so that overall coverage could be achieved, he said.

Thomas Hundt, the CEO of Smart Mobile, said his company was "more or less OK" with the draft as it stands.
"[There are] no major changes from our side," he said.

Beeline General Director Gael Campan was unavailable for comment Monday, as was market leader Mobitel.
Ciantar said it still remained unclear how long it would take for the draft telecommunications law to be passed.

"[We are] still seeking to confirm with the government their timetable," he said.

Perkins said he has requested the government outline when the draft might be passed but has yet to receive a response.

Regulation and legal recourse has recently come under the spotlight in Cambodia's increasingly competitive mobile-phone sector, with a dispute between Mobitel and Beeline still unresolved.

Mobitel has accused the Russian-owned operator of price-dumping and of "illegally" using its prefixes, while Beeline has countered that the market leader has deliberately blocked interconnectivity between their two networks.


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